Episode 4 Transcript

04 - Patient #12-D-10 (Sam)
by lauren Shippen

[sfx: click of recorder]

Dr. Bright: Patient #12-D-10. Session 2. After vanishing ten minutes into her first session, she reappeared minutes later, only to briefly apologize and flee my office. I must admit, I was surprised, but very relieved, when she made a second appointment.  

[sfx: door opening]

Dr. Bright: Sam, it’s lovely to see you. Why don’t you come in?

[sfx: door closing]

Sam: Thank you for agreeing to see me again, Dr. Bright. I’m- I’m really, really sorry about last time. 

Dr. Bright: It’s okay, Sam. I’m very happy you wanted to see me again. You rushed off last time before we could really talk. 

Sam: I know, I know - it’s just, it was the first time someone had been there since…well, I just got freaked out. I wasn’t sure how you would react. 

Dr. Bright: I had hoped I made it pretty clear last session that I’m accustomed to some pretty strange stuff. 

Sam: No, you did! It’s just - it seemed a little bit too good to be true, you know? I’ve never told anyone about my trips before and I- I just panicked a little bit, I guess. 

Dr. Bright: I completely understand.

Sam: That’s actually why I came back, I- it felt really nice to talk to someone about it. I didn’t know it could feel like that. 

Dr. Bright: What did it feel like?

Sam: Like the pressure had been let out of my chest just a little bit. It’s been so long. So long of keeping this secret and I’m just- I’m very grateful. Thank you. 

Dr. Bright: You don’t need to thank me, Sam. I’m thankful that you were brave enough to share your story with me. I can’t imagine how difficult these past 15 years have been for you. 

Sam: It definitely hasn’t been a walk in the park. 

Dr. Bright: Why don’t you tell me about it. Now that you finally have someone to talk to, you must be bursting with stories. 

Sam: Ha, I guess I am! I’ve never really thought about it. After a while, the trips became so stressful that I stopped seeing them as anything special. But, I don't know, thinking about them in the past week- yeah, I guess it makes for some pretty interesting party conversation. Well, if I could ever talk about them publicly, that is.  

Dr. Bright: Pretend for a moment you could. What would you say?

Sam: Um, I don't know. That for someone with no passport I’ve traveled more in 15 years than people do in a lifetime?

Dr. Bright: Okay, and where have you gone?

Sam: It’s hard to keep track. Name a place and I’ve probably been there at one time or another.

Dr. Bright: Well, I suppose that time is the more significant part of your trips, not location.

Sam: Right. So name a time then. 

Dr. Bright: I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Why don’t you just tell me about one of your favorite trips. 

Sam: Okay. Um, well, this one time I ended up in New York in the twenties. I think I was…uh, 15 or so? So things were still pretty fresh and exciting. And I- well, I only spent a night there - but it was so interesting, I saw so much. Gosh, everyone was dressed so beautifully and the city just glittered. I’ve never been to New York City - well, past 1950 that is - so I don’t know how it compares, but I can’t imagine it’s half as lovely now. I had arrived in Times Square, so I just wandered around there for a bit and ended up at something called The Follies? It was a- a dance show with these amazing costumes and dancing women and, well, it was just really neat. And the people sitting behind me were talking about going to the jazz clubs in Harlem after the show. The Cotton Club I think, and I thought, “well, that sounds fun, I’ll just follow them”. See, that’s the trick, to find some interesting people to follow around. Gosh, the first few times I traveled, I was so overwhelmed trying to take everything in that eventually I learned to pick just one thing to focus on. But if you choose wrong, it can be so boring. People’s day-to-day lives can be incredibly mundane. I mean, I suppose I can’t throw stones - my day-to-day life is pretty mundane. 

Dr. Bright: Sam, you were just talking about visiting the Cotton Club in the 1920s. I wouldn’t exactly call that mundane. 

Sam: Well, no, I guess you’re right - it’s not. But, you know, when I'm not- when I’m not in other places, I lead a pretty simple life. Some might even call it boring. 

Dr. Bright: Well, it sounds like your trips more than make up for it. Finish telling me about the Cotton Club. 

Sam: Okay, um, well, I followed this group into a cab, it was a pretty tight squeeze but I don’t really have any you know, physical presence when I’m in other times, so I don’t think they noticed - and we drove uptown and they were all laughing and drinking. Which I know was illegal but they all had flasks and the cab driver didn’t seem to mind. And they were just so happy. I remember thinking how nice it would be to have friends like that. Well, just to have friends at all, actually. But anyway, when we got to the club - well it was just- it was some of the most wonderful music I have ever heard. And everyone was so wild - I remember, I had just finished reading The Great Gatsby in school and it was just like that. Loud music, energetic dancing, alcohol flowing - I think we were out until 5am. And then just as the sun was coming up, I came back. Wow, I’ve never said any of that out loud before. It sounds completely crazy,  right? I mean, it sounds like someone’s dream. 

Dr. Bright: It does sound pretty spectacular, but that doesn’t make it any less true. I believe you, Sam. I believe that you traveled to 1920s New York and you saw all that. It’s fantastic, yes, but - as they say - the truth is often stranger than fiction. 

Sam: I don’t think whoever came up with that phrase was really thinking of this kind of situation. 

Dr. Bright: No, I suppose not. You said you were reading The Great Gatsby at the time? 

Sam: Yes, for English class. 

Dr. Bright: So you read arguably the most famous book about New York in the twenties and then you went there - that seems like quite a coincidence, doesn’t it?

Sam: I know. I remember thinking that at the time. That maybe I could control where I go. But it’s not like that all the time. Especially as I got older, the places I went just seemed more and more random. And even if I could control where I go, I don’t think I can ever control leaving in the first place. 

Dr. Bright: Why do you think that?

Sam: Because, it’s always so sudden. It just comes out of nowhere and I don’t exactly have time to think of where I want to go or prepare or anything like that. 

Dr. Bright: Last session you talked about the physical sensations that precede an episode, but are there any emotional ones? What were you doing before going to the twenties? What kind of emotional state were you in?

Sam: Um, well, I don’t really remember. I mean, it was a long time ago. 

Dr. Bright: I understand. Just try. Think back to that time. To the moments leading up to the trip. 

Sam: I was in the kitchen, uh, with my mom and I was doing homework I think. And then I started to get that feeling that I get - the tightness in my chest, the light-headedness, so I went into the bathroom where I could be alone and I, you know, went away. 

Dr. Bright: Had your mother said anything to you? Maybe something that triggered a reaction?

Sam: Um, no, I don’t think so. She was cooking dinner and I was doing my work so we weren’t really talking. 

Dr. Bright: Okay. Do you remember the work that you were doing?

Sam: You know what? I- I think it was the English assignment actually. Our essays on The Great Gatsby

Dr. Bright: Were you enjoying writing it? 

Sam: Um, no, no I wasn’t. I was really worried about it, actually. I remember thinking that I wasn’t going to get it done on top of all my other schoolwork and yeah, yeah, I was really worried about it. 

Dr. Bright: And the other times you’ve traveled? Have you been worried about things?

Sam: Yes! Yes, it’s- well, I get anxious sometimes. I’m not always working on something but sometimes I just get nervous about getting things done, or- or going grocery shopping or having to talk to someone. Or last week, with you! Is that- do you think that’s causing it? Like, panic attacks or something?

Dr. Bright: Yes, Sam, I think that might be exactly it. The physical symptoms you’ve described align very closely with those of a typical panic attack. I think you may have an anxiety disorder and your panic attacks are just a little different than most people’s. 

Sam: That’s putting it mildly. 

Dr. Bright: Well, yes. But this is good news. There are methods people adopt to deal with panic attacks - perhaps the same methods would work with you.

Sam: Yeah, I mean, I’ve heard of those kinds of things before. But, I just don’t really think that’ll work on me? I mean, I’ll barely have any time to do any breathing or whatever it is before I disappear. 

Dr. Bright: Then maybe it’s about changing your lifestyle a little bit. Learning to handle the day to day stresses and lower your anxiety. 

Sam: Can’t you just - I don’t know, can’t you just give me some medication or something? I mean, if you really think that this is some sort of bizarre anxiety disorder then there’s medication for that right? Something that could maybe stop the attacks for good?

Dr. Bright: Is that really what you want, Sam?

Sam: What do you mean? Of course it is. 

Dr. Bright: So you’re telling me that, if you could, you would get rid of this ability all together? You would give up the chance to travel through time and see such amazing things? 

Sam: I- I think so? I mean, if it just keeps happening - if I can’t learn to control it, then yes. I can’t live like this anymore. If there’s a way out, I want it. 

Dr. Bright: I don’t think medication is the answer in your case. And besides, I am not an MD. I can’t prescribe you anything. 

Sam: But I could go see someone else right? I could go to a psychiatrist and just tell them I have panic attacks and get something to get rid of them?

Dr. Bright: Is this why you came back to see me, Sam? To get medication?

Sam: No, no- I mean, maybe but not entirely. I really did want someone to talk to but I just - I thought maybe there would be some sort of drug that might help. I mean, modern medicine has come so far right? And I was looking up some stuff online and there are plenty of drugs now that deal with pretty serious conditions.

Dr. Bright: While that’s true, I don’t think it applies here. You time travel, Sam. Your body bends both space and time on a regular basis. That’s a little outside the realm of modern medicine. There’s no way of knowing what a serious psychotropic drug would do to you.

Sam: So there’s nothing you can do after all. I just have to stay this way forever. 

Dr. Bright: I’m not saying that. You have an incredible gift and I think you can learn to harness it. If we can get to the root of your anxiety, maybe you can learn to expect your panic attacks and prevent or even focus them on a specific time and place. 

Sam: You really think I could learn to control it?

Dr. Bright: With my help, I think that’s a distinct possibility, yes. But you have to be committed - you need to be open to what I tell you and make sure that you answer all my questions honestly and fully. We’re entering foreign territory, Sam. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Think of it as embarking on a new adventure. 

Sam: I’m a little tired of new adventures - I thought that would have been obvious by now. 

Dr. Bright: Of course. I know you must be frustrated, but this is progress. A week ago you were dealing with this alone, which, by what you’ve told me, meant not really dealing with it at all. But now I’m here to help you. You need to trust me, Sam. You don’t need to do this alone anymore.

Sam: Okay. Okay, I guess - I guess you’re right. I suppose I could - I could try. 

Dr. Bright: Good. That’s good. See? I think you’re doing better already. Being open about your ability will make all the difference in the world. 

Sam: You don’t mean I should go out and tell people about it do you? Because, I don’t think I’m ready for that yet, and who would I talk to exactly? I don’t have a lot of people in my life for obvious reasons and I-

Dr. Bright: Sam, Sam, it’s alright - breathe. I didn’t mean you should be talking about this with other people. I’m sorry I should have made that clear. Obviously, it would be foolish to make your ability any more public than it is. (stern) You cannot tell anyone else about this.  

Sam: No, of course not. I don’t know what I was thinking. 

Dr. Bright: But you can talk to me. You can tell me everything you remember - all the stories you’ve been keeping inside all these years. And you should. It will help me help you if I know as much as I can about your condition. 

Sam: Okay. I think I can do that. What do you want to know?

Dr. Bright: Tell me about your first trip. Ancient Greece, wasn’t it?

Sam: Ha, yeah, it was Ancient Greece. Well, first of all, I was so confused - I mean, one moment I’m lying on my bed reading and the next, I’m lying in a field and I get up and look around…

[sfx: clock ticking] 

(time passes)

Dr. Bright: Well, Sam, I am so pleased that you came back. Start trying those calming methods every day as I taught you and consider the journal idea. 

Sam: You really think it will help to write all my trips down? Isn’t that a little dangerous? What if someone finds it?

Dr. Bright: Even if someone did, they would most likely think it a work of fiction. But yes, I do think it will help. If you bring me copies of what you write down, I can read through them and see if I can spot any patterns. We may find something helpful.  

Sam: Alright, I can do that. Thank you, Dr. Bright. Really, I- this- well. It means a lot. What you’re doing for me. I had forgotten what it could be like - I mean, I haven’t thought about that first trip to Greece in so long. I forgot how wonderful it was at first. 

Dr. Bright: It can be like that again, Sam. You can learn to control it. I have faith in you. 

Sam: Thank you. 

Dr. Bright: So I’ll see you next week?

Sam: Absolutely. See you next week. 

[sfx: door opening and closing]

Dr. Bright: Successful first full session. While the patient was at first reluctant to embrace her ability, I think we will be able to harness it. Her travels have been quite impressive - she’s traveled much farther back in time than I would have expected, and to such different geographic locations, that I’m beginning to think her range is limitless. Whether or not she is able to become fully corporeal when traveling back remains to be seen. The things that could be possible…I’m getting ahead of myself, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t immediately think of Mark when she said she could time travel. We’ll have to wait and see. She’s still holding back so much - if I can get her to trust me without spooking her, I think she could be the biggest asset I have. 

[sfx: click of recorder]

[music & credits]

Lauren Shippen: The Bright Sessions is written and produced by Lauren Shippen. The voice of Dr. Bright is Julia Morizawa. The voice of Sam is Lauren Shippen. Special thanks to Elizabeth Laird for her advice as both a psychologist and fiction lover, to Elizabeth and Matthew Harrington for their enduring support, and to Anna Lore for our graphic design. For additional content to donate to our podcast, please visit thebrightsessions.com. For any questions or just to say hi, email us at thebrightsessions@gmail. Thanks for listening and stay strange.